What Will Happen To The Future Of Fantagio?
First founded in September 2008 as Noa Entertainment (standing for Network of Asia) before being renamed as Fantagio Entertainment in June 2011, the agency is the home of many actors/actresses, groups, solo artists, and even YouTubers. Some of the famous names under Fantagio Entertainment are boy group Astro, girl group Weki Meki, and actors Seo Kang-joon and Gong Myung. The company also had a report of operating income of KR₩14.1 billion with a net income of KR₩1.8 billion (approximately US $1.6 million) per 2012.
But, in December 2017, shocking news revealed that Fantagio CEO had been arrested in China. This piece of news, of course, put a halt and uncertainties about their future activities. So, what will happen with Fantagio’s artists? Well, if you’re curious, find out the answers by scrolling down this article below!
Details Of Fantagio CEO’s Arrest In China
Back in October 2017, various news outlets reported that Chinese investment group JC Group’s Korean branch Gold Finance Korea purchased 50.07 percent of Fantagio’s stocks thus becomes the agency’s largest shareholder. Following this news, on December 2nd, 2017, an official statement was released regarding the dismissal of CEO Na Byung-jun by the agency’s major shareholder. It was revealed on the announcement that Na Byung Jun, the founder and co-CEO of Fantagio, was dismissed from his position due to the Chinese company took over as the largest shareholder of the agency. A budget deficit have been claimed to be the reason of his dismissal.
Replacing Na Byung-jun, Chinese co-CEO Wei Jie will become the sole CEO of the agency. This decision was announced by major shareholder JC Group at the board of directors meeting held on December 28th, 2017.
In response, Fantagio then formed an emergency committee to discuss this matter. This committee was also an attempt at trying to stabilize the company following the Na Byung-jun’s leave. An official statement was released by the committee on January 2nd, 2018, that called for, “The reinstatement of CEO Na Byung Joon and the suspension of the Chinese major shareholder’s abnormal business intervention.”
The statement stated, “If CEO Na Byung Joon is not immediately reinstated to his position and the Korean branch of the Chinese major shareholder does not halt their illegal and abnormal interventions into our business practices, the staff employees will go on a general strike,” and “All employees will protect their company and artists from the current illegal tyranny.”
They went on, “Along with the dismissal of CEO Na Byung Jun, there have been other unfair transfers and terminations. We have delivered our position to the shareholders and are awaiting a response. We are trying our best to resolve the situation through dialogue. We will do our best to minimize the impact this will have on our artists, but we will not hesitate to go on a general strike if necessary.”
It showed that a lot of Fantagio employees were not happy with the decision and the new Chinese CEO.
One year later, a new report and shocking news came on April 29th, 2019. According to several Chinese media outlets, CEO Wei Jie and more than 30 high-ranking officials were arrested by Hangzhou’s public security bureau. The arrest was then reported due to the suspicion of JC Group illegally obtaining funds from the Chinese provincial government. JC Group reportedly uses a public-private partnership (PPP) project which was originally intended to modernize the countryside.
JC Group was suspected to serve as the middleman that bridged the local governments seeking to develop the local economy and individual investors seeking profits. As it turned out, the company also involved in the development projects to build 59 “special villages” in different regions across the country, including Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Hunan. The majority of those villages were also revealed to be PPP projects jointly pursued with local governments. JC Group reportedly used these projects to bring in a large number of funds.
Eventually, Wei Jie is arrested by the public security bureau, along with JC Group’s business being suspended. Although this news quite a relief, this matter also raised worries about Fantagio Entertainment’s bankruptcy.
JC Group, established by businessman Wei Jie in 2008, acted as an agent between local governments eager to raise funds to develop the local economy and affluent Chinese investors searching for high returns… The company sold at least 350 “private funds” to designated investors, raising billions of yuan by promising annual returns as high as 12 per cent.
— South China Morning Post
Over 30 executive officers have also demanded to be investigated further. They were investigated for the crime of financial fraud, particularly illegal financing, and have the potentials to receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in China.
The company and its affiliates raised as much as 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) from [private] investors by last May… By October they had missed repayment on more than 17 billion yuan… A lot of the money was actually used to pay interest on short-term fixed-income products sold by the companies or to refinance their borrowing… Some was even funneled into real estate by Wei and other senior managers of JC Group, investors said.
— Caixin Global
Fantagio’s Response To The Case
Following the news of its CEO’s arrestment, Fantagio insisted that the Korean branch of JC Group is a separate entity from JC Group. They reassured the public not to worry, and that the company has been operating just fine, for there is no direct link between JC Group and Fantagio.
Below is Fantagio’s statement regarding the case:
Hello, this is Fantagio.
We are here to inform you of our official position regarding inquiries we’ve received today.
The company has confirmed that CEO Wei Jie is currently being investigated in China, so the investigative results have not been released yet.
Fantagio has operated under a professional management since last year, and all of its employees and artists are actively working without any administrative or business-related absences.
Additionally, we are maintaining a stable financial position and continuing to unsparingly invest in and support our artists.
Fantagio’s management values all of the artists and employees under Fantagio and Fantagio Music.
Please, we request that you refrain from posting speculative articles for those who care for Fantagio and its artists.
Fans’ Concerns About The Artists
Many fans were most likely worried at the moment about Fantagio Entertainment since JC Group was the main financial support and the foundation of Fantagio Entertainment’s businesses.
Fans have started to be concerned about the future activities of Fantagio’s current artists, as the agency was home to approximately 36 celebrities, including Seo Kang-joon, Gong Myung, Ong Seong-woo, Weki Meki, and ASTRO. On top of that, The news was reported only four days before Weki Meki’s comeback and many fans are questioning their future activities..
A lot of fans voiced their concerns on Twitter:
Not fantagio CEO getting arrested to steal the spotlight away from Weki Meki’s comeback… men love to be selfish pic.twitter.com/I6BtNN5W9k
— arianna❤️경원 (@hin5pia) May 11, 2019
fantagio’s ceo just got arrested? can we all support tf out of weki meki’s comeback and Astro’s next comeback
— jess ☾✩‧₊⁺ (@uncoverksg) May 11, 2019
FANTAGIO'S CEO HAS REPORTEDLY ARRESTED IN CHINA FOR ILLEGAL FINANCING AND FRAUD–
WEKI MEKI'S ENTERTAINMENT
and our ONG FOOL
— dark || yeonie (@yeon_baebae11) May 11, 2019